We have a data problem in golf. Let’s fix it.

Posted By on Apr 10, 2016 | 0 comments

The hotel industry seems to live and die by the exalted STAR Report, which provides a local property with Occupancy, Average Daily Rate (ADR), and Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) against a comparable set of properties in the market. The golf industry has no equal, and we need one.

For years, PerformanceTrak by the PGA, in cooperation with NGCOA, reported national, regional and market-level rounds information, as well as some limited reporting of revenue performance. The PGA recently announced they are no longer supporting the program. They approved a baton-passing to GolfDatatech, which has been collecting national rounds data since 1999. NGCOA and GDT were partners in this effort a long time ago, and we’re happy to help GDT continue the ever-important effort to report on our industry’s most basic performance metric. So, please go to http://www.golfdatatech.com/course-search/ and enter your monthly rounds when you hear the call for data submission. Can you imagine if the Wall Street Journal called to ask how many rounds of golf were played in the first quarter of 2016, and we could only shrug our shoulders and look lost?

One of the challenges with PerformanceTrak was the requirement by course staffers to hand-enter monthly data, which will continue with GDT. But here’s the thing…it’s 2016, people! We need you to participate, but we shouldn’t have to ask you to hand-enter information. Why can’t we identify all the tee time systems, which should naturally have data on rounds played, and have them all fed into one, central repository? Out of this neutral repository, we could produce robust rounds played data or feed such information to those who wanted to build robust reporting. This way, it would be more scientifically sound.

Getting these tee time system operators into one room to agree on how this should work needs to happen first. And if we accomplish this, the course operator will have to give permission to share data, which would remain anonymous. Better still, it would make the process much less time-consuming. Isn’t letting your tee time system know once that “you’re in,” versus entering data 12 times per year, a better scenario for everyone?

From where I sit, I observe multiple efforts in our industry to gather and/or report performance data in one form or another, from rounds to revenue and expenses: NGCOA, NGF, GolfDatatech, Pellucid, Club Benchmarking, Links Insight and the ORCA Report, to name a few. Either one of these has to break out from the pack and become the STAR Report, or we have to find a way to work together. The inconvenient thing about data projects like this is the value and insights that result from them are directly proportionate to the quantity and quality of the data entered. We fair no better in golf if we have multiple, competing efforts.

This is my first smoke signal to the industry. If you run a tee time system or are in the data business in golf, expect to hear from NGCOA. We can and must do better.

What do you think?

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